Zen Story – Empty The Cup

tea ceremony Zen Story   Empty The Cup

One of my favorite stories concerns a Buddhist scholar and a Zen Master. The scholar had an extensive background in Buddhist Studies and was an expert on the Nirvana Sutra. He came to study with the master and after making the customary bows, asked her to teach him Zen. Then, he began to talk about his extensive doctrinal background and rambled on and on about the many sutras he had studied.

The master listened patiently and then began to make tea. When it was ready, she poured the tea into the scholar’s cup until it began to overflow and run all over the floor. The scholar saw what was happening and shouted, “Stop, stop! The cup is full; you can’t get anymore in.”

The master stopped pouring and said: “You are like this cup; you are full of ideas about Buddha’s Way. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.”

Emptying Your Cup – by Nonin Chowaney

My instructor told us this story at the end of class tonight. Just thought I’d change things up a bit and share.

To learn, a student must empty their mind of all the crap going on in their daily lives, what they think they know and emotional conflicts in order to really learn. This old story can be interpreted other ways too.

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1 thought on “Zen Story – Empty The Cup

  1. When my material pursuits no longer stave off the pain of existential dread and I inevitably have a mid-life crisis, Buddhism is one of the things I will definitely look into.

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